No matter what kind of job you had during 2020, we all learned one thing when the pandemic hit: it’s no longer safe to rely on just one source of income. With many of us spending more time at home during COVID-19, now is the perfect time to start your own freelance side hustle and stack up some extra cash.
Here’s how to start a freelance side hustle during COVID-19 in five steps:
Step 1: Identify Your Profitable Skills and Interests
First, think about what skills, interests, and experience you have that can be turned into a profitable freelance side-hustle. What problem can you solve? What tasks or skills come easy to you but are hard for other people? What is something that you can do to save someone else time or money? What is something you have always been curious about and wanted to pursue further? Answering these questions will help you find a freelance side hustle that is in-demand and aligns with your interests.
Whether you have creative or business skills, there are tons of ways to monetize what you’re good at. For example, if you’re a musician, you could provide online piano or guitar lessons. If you have writing skills, you could offer blogging or social media management services. If you have admin experience, you could provide virtual assistance. Check out this list for a few ideas to get you thinking.
Freelancing has seen a significant boom since the pandemic, so if you want to stand out in a crowded market, my advice is to start small and niche down by picking a super specific service, solution, or target audience. For example, there are tons of freelance social media managers out there, but my freelance services specifically provide Instagram management and consulting for introverts. If you are picking a freelance service that is popular, think about how you can differentiate yourself from others who may be doing something similar.
Step 2: Get Your First Client
Once you have decided what freelance service you want to offer, it’s time to get your first client. Getting your first client will help you validate your freelance side hustle, as you will be able to see if there is any demand for your services as well as determine whether it’s something that you truly want to pursue.
Freelance job boards are a great place to find potential clients when you are first starting out. Sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour have thousands of people posting jobs and searching for freelancers every day. If you still feel like you need more experience or knowledge to deliver your service, you can even get an apprenticeship and work on real projects alongside more experienced freelancers to help you see how to run a successful freelance business and get some initial testimonials.
Getting your first client may be tough, especially if you don’t have any previous experience or reviews from clients. To help, try offering your services for free or at a discounted rate in exchange for a testimonial. Charging less than full price will not only help you to secure a client faster but also take the pressure off when you are first starting out so that you can focus on delivering great work and getting experience. You can continue to improve your skills and services by reading books, attending online workshops, or taking courses on platforms like Udemy or Skillshare.
Step 3: Set Your Schedule
Building a freelance side hustle while you are working a full-time job means you have less free time, so you have to have tons of self-discipline. Are you a morning bird? Get up an hour or two earlier to work on your side hustle before you start your full-time job. Night owl? Spend some time on your side hustle after work before you go to bed. If your schedule is really tight, you can also do some work during the weekends. Pick the schedule that makes you feel most energized and inspired.
Consider blocking off time on your calendar to build your freelance side hustle, whether that’s looking for potential clients, working on client work, or learning additional skills. Plan your day the night before so that you know exactly what you want to accomplish and can hit the ground running. Setting routines will help you give your side hustle the attention it needs to grow instead of letting it become a hobby that you dabble in whenever you have some spare time.
Step 4: Promote Your Freelance Services
After you have a few freelance projects under your belt, introduce your freelance services to the world. Let your family, friends, and anyone else know about your services so that they keep you in mind when they hear about something that might be a fit. Once you’ve tapped your immediate network, pick one marketing tactic that you feel comfortable consistently using to reach out to potential clients and promote your services. This could be pitching through email, posting about your services on your social media channels, doing guest blogging, etc.
Also consider joining online communities with other freelancers and entrepreneurs in your niche. There are tons of Facebook Groups filled with people who are looking for help. You can attract potential clients by sharing your expertise, answering questions, and then offering your services. Being a part of these communities will help you make valuable connections, find additional opportunities for work, and learn from others who may be more experienced.
Step 5: Keep the End Goal in Mind
Growing your own freelance side hustle takes hard work and dedication so don’t expect success to happen overnight. It will require you to rethink what your priorities are, get scrappy and creative, and stretch yourself to do things you might have never done before. Use the steps above to guide you through the process, but remember: there is no exact step-by-step blueprint to freelancing. There will be times when you might feel lost or question whether you should even keep pursuing it.
Whether it’s to have extra cash for bills, to gain more experience to level-up in your career, or to eventually be your own boss, keeping your end goal in mind will push you through when things get tough. Building a successful freelance side-hustle can feel like a slow process that requires some sacrifices, but the financial independence and personal fulfillment that comes along with it makes it so worth it.